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Published: 2010-07-19 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has established a new internet-based trading noticeboard for farmers wishing to buy, sell or lease nitrogen under the new Variation 5 policy to protect Lake Taupo.

Variation 5 is designed to cap and reduce the amount of nitrogen leaching into Lake Taupo from farms to protect water quality in the lake, while allowing farms business flexibility and choice.

Under the first such scheme in this country, each rural property will be assessed and assigned a nitrogen discharge allowance (this NDA is expressed in kilograms per hectare) and total annual nitrogen discharge (kilograms per year). These measures will cap the amount of nitrogen that is allowed to leach from their farming operations on an annual basis.

Farmers have the option of farming less intensively than their cap allows and selling any "surplus" nitrogen (at a price per kilogram) to others in the catchment who want to farm more intensively than their cap allows. Prices paid for nitrogen will be determined by market forces.

Farmers in the Lake Taupo catchment will shortly be mailed more details about the new trading noticeboard established at

"If farmers want to buy, sell or lease nitrogen they can use the noticeboard to find interested parties. Nitrogen trading and reallocation can only occur between landowners within the catchment," said Natasha Hayward – On Farm Programme Manager.

"Establishment of the trading noticeboard fulfills one of EW’s tasks under the new policy. We stress that EW will not be a buyer or seller of nitrogen, nor will it have any responsibility for managing deals initiated as a result of information placed on the noticeboard. However, all nitrogen trades will ultimately need to be reflected through a resource consent process for both the buyer and the seller. "

Ms Hayward said nitrogen trading allowed for by Variation 5 is to give landowners in the catchment greater flexibility for their operations, while maintaining the overall nitrogen cap for the pastoral area in the catchment.

"Depending on the market prices established for nitrogen, some farmers may find it a viable option to de-intensify, sell nitrogen and change to low nitrogen leaching land use options."

Ms Hayward also said the central Government and local council-funded Lake Taupo Protection Trust will remain active in the market for nitrogen. "The trust, which is aiming to reduce nitrogen outputs from the pastoral area in the catchment by 20 per cent to protect Lake Taupo, will still be looking to purchase nitrogen from farmers."